Formula 1 personnel are not yet able to return to the Imola circuit and are awaiting an update on the status of the 2023 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
The sixth round of the season is in the balance as the impact of severe weather in the region is evaluated.
As expected, heavy rain on Tuesday and Wednesday morning has already started to impact the Emilia Romagna region very badly, following a red alert warning of flooding and landslides.
It is the second time in just a few weeks that the area has suffered badly from such extreme rainfall.
Personnel working at the track already on Tuesday, to prepare for the event, were asked to leave the circuit as a precaution as water levels rose in the Santerno River that runs adjacent to the paddock.
This came as parts of the wider region began to flood, and even the circuit itself has been breached – although the F1 paddock appears to have avoided the worst of it for now.
The hope was for the situation to improve in time for this weekend’s grand prix, with assurances that teams and personnel had either already travelled or intended to travel as planned.
As of Wednesday morning, though, the advice remains for personnel to stay away from the track.
There has been, yet again, a devastating impact on local people whose houses and businesses have flooded.
F1 personnel already in the area have either been forced to relocate or had accommodation bookings outright cancelled.
The logistical impact goes well beyond F1, which is just a minor element in a much more troublesome situation.
It is unclear how many roads around the track will be able to open in the coming days and the exact resolution for the event is under discussion – delaying on-site activities, adjusting the timetable, postponing or cancelling the event all appear to be valid options.
An update from local authorities is expected during the day with further information early this afternoon.
The Race says
Scott Mitchell-Malm, on site in Bologna
Right now, this grand prix is in limbo. If it happens, it will surely be in a truncated form, with F1 teams and other personnel likely to lose a day-and-a-half of preparation and set-up time.
Those working at the grand prix have either travelled to Italy already or are travelling today.
The lack of access to the circuit today is not problematic to some people, like the media, whose main work begins on Thursday. But having had to leave the circuit on Tuesday when water levels were rising in the circuit confines, teams cannot return on Wednesday to see what – if anything – has happened to crucial areas of the paddock and garages, or finish work setting up.
Essentially, the concern – specifically for the grand prix as there is obviously a far more important wider picture to consider – is not about conditions for the weekend as the weather should ease (although most likely remain wet).
It is about the problems that have been caused already by the rain, and what will be discovered as the situation is properly assessed. It may be that there is water damage at the track or other consequences from flooding.
And as the weather badly impacts other parts of the surrounding area it’s a huge unknown whether access roads will be usable and where emergency services and local authorities need to be prioritising their attention.
That links to a point that should also be a priority (at least from a moral point of view, if not financially): whether this race should go ahead, even if it can.
For the second time in a few weeks the region is suffering badly and some people are losing a lot. An especially unfortunate few are losing everything. A display of decadence like a major sporting event is a contrast that feels extremely inappropriate, to put it mildly, in the circumstances.
But then comes the thorny matter of who pays for what, how fans get reimbursed, and doubtless other financial considerations – which is why, if it’s possible, this race will likely go ahead in one form or another.